One of the first things I did when I moved to Ann Arbor is look for the local Chamber of Commerce. They weren’t too hard to find. After perusing the Chamber website and determining that it is a healthy, active group, I contacted Cheryl O’Brien, the Membership Director. We talked about my business, what brought me to the area, and what I want to accomplish through the chamber. She did a great job explaining the numerous benefits of chamber membership and provided a calendar of events, most of which looked appealing.
As a new resident, I figured there would not be a better way to jump headfirst into the local business networking scene. As a newly minted Search Engine Marketing consultant, I thought it would be the best way to drum up some local business and meet Ann Arbor’s movers and shakers. I was right on both counts. Right out of the gate I attended a breakfast event with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. She spoke about local and national issues that affect Ann Arbor businesses, as well as her initiatives to improve the business climate. Politics aside, it was a great opportunity for business owners to interact with their elected representative. I met several local business owners and learned about their challenges and opportunities in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Shortly after the breakfast, I was visited by Greg Peters, a volunteer on the Chamber’s Ambassadors committee. Greg runs a full-time web development company called Cyber Data Solutions, but spends a little time each month visiting new Chamber members and distributing a bag full of
propaganda literature. He helped by explaining more of the networking opportunities the Chamber offers and different ways to get involved. Much of our discussion revolved around marketing and the internet in general, which he deftly summed up on his blog, Clearing Up The Confusion. Many thanks to Greg for taking time out of his day to welcome a new Chamber member.
The next event I attended was a member reception at Vinology, a local wine bar and another Chamber member. They hosted a great event that drew about 75 or 100 people together to network and relax a little. The martini bar definitely helped with the latter. Actually, it helped with the former too. I met many interesting people there and learned about all different types of local businesses.
The one common thread that everybody shared was wanting to grow their business. I was able to share a lot of ideas with other people and learn more about their online/offline wins and losses as well. I now have several new contacts in the community and some great ideas for future networking opportunities. I will report regularly on other Chamber events and their impact on business. From what I can tell so far, it’s only going to be good things.